Lowell City Council Meeting: May 20, 2014
Vote for New Auditor
Hannah York appointed new City Auditor by a 9-0 vote. In subsequent vote, councilors direct mayor and city solicitor to meet with Ms. York and negotiate employment agreement. There’s no start date, however, councilors mentioned she would have to give two week’s notice to her current employer. [Ed. Note: From Ms. York’s Linked-In page: “I am currently the bond and investment auditor for the Travis County Auditor’s Office.” I heard from several sources that councilors were quite impressed with Ms. York, who was interviewed via Skype from Texas. It was also said that family considerations had prompted Ms. York’s interest in obtaining employment in Massachusetts, so her relocation should not be an impediment ].
Councilor Rourke asks about the timing of re-opening of neighborhood police precincts. Manager Murphy says that the request for bids for new precinct sites will be released soon.
Councilor Rourke moves that a memorial be established at the Lowell Boys and Girls Club for Bill LaPointe. Several members of the public speak in favor of this.
Mayor Elliott has a motion regarding procedure the city uses for collecting excise taxes. Says there have been many complaints from people who do not receive initial bill but then get a follow-up bill with a substantial late fee. Is also concerned that checks are being lost and that customer service isn’t what it should be. Manager Murphy says several of those issues have arisen since he’s been in office. Says he’s trying to establish some appeal process. Says he will not stand for poor customer service and will address it tomorrow morning. Councilor Mercier connects this to the erroneous water bills she raised as an issue last week and says there needs to be more accountability overall in the city. Councilor Martin says hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t get a complaint about either the treasurer’s office or the water department or both. Councilor Martin says many attorneys tell him that the Lowell Treasurer’s Office and Water Department used to be the best in the county to deal with and now they’re the worst. Cites a case where someone obtained a Municipal Lien Certificate three months ago that showed $300 owed for water was followed by a water bill today for $52,000. Says there’s a pattern of council complaints being met with hostility and push-back by city employees in these two offices. City Manager Murphy says he’s having Mr. Lahiff (head of the water department) give him a list of the highest water bills with an explanation of why they are so high and will give the council a report. Says he agrees with Councilor Martin 100% that such poor customer service is unacceptable. Motion passes on voice vote.
Meeting adjourns at 7:32 pm
One Response to Lowell City Council Meeting: May 20, 2014
Since City Manager Murphy needs some time to learn the ropes from Bob Healy, I’m fine with the short meetings. After months and months of histrionics on the Council, ending mid-March, I’m enjoying the respite.
Soon enough the training wheels will come off and we’ll find out who will get appointed to the LHA, filling Zaim’s spot. Will it be the guy lobbying for the gig, via the Blog of Record? I mention this as a pivotal moment because the budget process will be toothless. As the faux watchdog becomes the most well heeled lapdog.
Oh! What’s up with the problems in the two Departments? Why now? Did lightning strike or did a window of opportunity open? Our brightest bulb is shining a light on it, so we’re supposed to play along?